Canadian Supreme Court To Review Case Of Woman Arrested For Not Holding Handrail

Supreme_Court_of_Canada_-_LogoThere is an interesting case heading to Ottawa before the Supreme Court of Canada.  Bela Kosoian was arrested for failing to hold onto to an escalator handrail at a subway station in Montreal.  The officer maintained that sign encouraging the practice was a binding law and issued a citation after she declined to hold on to the handrail.  In the earlier Court of Appeal decision, Justice Julie Dutil concluded that, even though the officer was mistaken on the law, he still had grounds to arrest her after she dismissed his instructions and failed to give her name.  That highly problematic ruling will now be reviewed.Kosoian was in the subway station in 2009 when an officer told her to “hold the handrail” and pointed to a pictogram showing people doing so.  Kosoian responded that she did not consider the sign saying “Careful” was a legal obligation.  She then refused to identify herself and was put under arrest.

She was held about 30 minutes then released with two tickets — one for $100 for disobeying a pictogram and another for $320 for having obstructed the work of an inspector.  After she was acquitted on both charges she filed a lawsuit against the Montreal Transit Corp., the City of Laval and one of the officers, Fabio Camacho.

That suit was rejected later reject in both the trial and appellate courts.  Justice Dutil ruled that Kosoian was the “author of her own misfortune.” That means that an officer can order a citizen to comply with a law that does not exist and then arrest the citizen when she refuse to comply.

Justice Mark Schrager wisely dissented and now the Supreme Court will examine the case.


31 thoughts on “Canadian Supreme Court To Review Case Of Woman Arrested For Not Holding Handrail”

  1. From my perspective, and without regard to what “the law” says, the idea that laws are written to protect people from their own stupidity is stupidity defined. Laws should not be written instructing people how to protect themselves; that’s a normal life function. People will protect themselves to the level they think is appropriate for the circumstances. End of issue.

    Then we have the idea that a police officer can issue a citation to a person for not obeying a rule that is written (or pictogrammed) for their own protection. That is just farcical. It’s bad enough that people can be cited for violating a law they don’t even know exists. But when the police don’t even know what the law is, then there are too many laws being written (or pictogrammed, as the case may be).

    There was an excellent book written by Harvey Silverlake (I think I got the name right; my copy is loaned out, so I don’t have the reference in front of me) titled “Three Felonies a Day”. This should be read by all legislators before they go to work in the morning.

  2. It’s a pusillanimous culture. It’s no surprise this rather cussed woman is slapped down for not being cravenly submissive.

  3. The ghost of the Maple Spring seems to be hovering over the jaw-droppingly awful decisions by the Court of Quebec and the Court of Appeal…

    Let me explain.

    From February 2012 to May 2014, about 2,500 people were mass arrested and served tickets under the P-6 bylaw.

    On 9 February 2015, the municipal court ruled that the police applied NON-EXISTENT OFFENCES! This was not appealed. All the tickets came crashing down.

    A succession of class action lawsuits were filed in the months prior to the decision.

    I wonder if these judges were trying to stop the inevitable?

    And by the way, in the ratio of the majority, the arrest was LEGAL under civil law, and ILLEGAL under Criminal law, in order to take into account a 2017(!!!)Supreme Court decision that again said cops may NOT be ignorant of the law!

    The majority MANGLED Hill v Hamlton-Wentworth in order to claim that the Supreme Court permitted cops to be ignorant of the law in a civil liability context. In reality, the judgement was about creating a new tort of negligent investigation, and that when they said cops should not be held to the standard of a reasonable prosecutor or judge, that is in ASSESSING EVIDENCE!

  4. Idiot cops and other functionaries are found in all countries. Refusing to acknowledge the authority of a cop is that hidden drive found in most. The difference here is that this sort of stuff happens on a regular basis everywhere but in the US, the alleged perp gets slammed, tasered, shot, and the cop gets off. In Canada, a ticket, and the cop most probably got a lecture. Turley’s finger pointing about the loss of this or that freedom, as usual, points right back here.

    1. Isaac, I find such bigotry against cops to be highly offensive. That is especially so in light of the fact that Sgt Ron Helus was recently killed when he engaged the active shooter at Borderline, and many cops threw the elderly who were trying to escape the Parasie fire, on foot, with walkers, into their vehicles and drove them to safety.

      There is a procedure in place to deal with unlawful use of force. If the cop “gets off” why would you imply that he was guilty, instead of proven innocent?

      Kaepernick’s pig socks, Beyonce’s Anti-cop halftime show, and all the rest of the anti-police rhetoric fails to consider that the cops are the ones running into danger when those same critics would run away. Police Brutality is not even close to the highest risk factor to African American men. If those celebrities want to actually save black lives, I suggest that they tackle gang violence. Because the highest risk of murder to an African American is another African American, and the most violent people are gang members. However, since the music industry and professional sports inexplicably idolize gang members, I don’t see piercing criticism coming anytime soon.

      If you want to avoid “police brutality” then there are these really simple rues to follow:

      1. The majority at the Court of Appeal conceded that under criminal law, Agent Camacho would be guilty as sin of crimes stemming from the illegal arrest, which would include assault, kidnapping, etc, as an arrest “not authorised by law” is not immunised under s. 25 Criminal Code and hence it would be as if any old person physically seized and imprisoned someone. That Camacho was not charged with a crime is a matter of Crown discretion that always favours the police completely. So Agent Camacho’s guilt is not in question. The majority however claims that “no one may be ignorant of the law” does NOT apply in a civil law context so he cannot be held liable for what criminal law regards as a crime. That is incorrect and breaks with decades of settled law, and the Supreme Court has to deal with the matter and also to make clear that their decision in Hill v Hamilton Wentworth Police Serves never authorises police to be ignorant of the law, that they not be held to teh standard of a reasonable judge is a question of assessing facts in order to proceed with an investigation or an arrest which is not to be held at the same level as a prosecutor deciding to proceed or a judge deciding to convict.

    1. The arrest respects s. 74 CPP according to civil law since “none may be ignorant of the law” does not apply, but as they concede it applies under criminal law, thus it violates s. 74 CPP! Thus it respects and violates a law at the same time! Based on a faulty reading of Hill v Hamilton Wentworth Police Services!

      1. The singular American failure since 1860 has been the Supreme Court.

        Cops and “…courts…must…declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void.”

        “[A] limited Constitution … can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing … To deny this would be to affirm … that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

        – Alexander Hamilton

  5. This case has been trickling through the Canadian system for NINE YEARS ??? There must be better issues to worry about.

  6. True justice would be requiring the cop to have a full-blown psych eval including the MMIP and MCMI (while hooked up to a polygraph) and then have his diagnosis tattooed across his face for the protection of anyone he interacts with

    1. Andrea – taking the MMPI would be punishment enough. 😉 It takes about 3 hours.

  7. I have often said that it is the “stupid stuff” for which law enforcement and government officials get themselves into situations that mushroom into major controversies. This is certainly one of them. It often stems from hubris on part of both sides where neither is willing to back down, (rightly or not) but the government has the advantage yet is unwilling to exercise proper discretion and just let it go–after which the situation gets out of control.

    You have to ask yourself as a LEO, “is enforcement worth any potential trip to the supreme court and a years long battle where the benefit to the government is minimal?” if one cannot answer this in the affirmative it’s best let alone.

  8. There are provisions in traffic law mandating compliance with road signs. In addition to per se restrictive signs such as Yield, Stop, or Speed Limit a catch all type of ordinance or statute generally is permitted since local conditions can have unique traffic safety requirements and that the legislature cannot be expected to codify each potential situation given all the other requirements of time. Thus, the legislature defers to a traffic authority the ability to make such restrictions.

    I suspect that nearly all states in some form have adopted by reference the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices standard. Generally those signs having Black on White, White on Black, Red on White, and White on Red, signs are regulatory and compliance with these signs is mandatory. (as opposed to others that are cautionary or advisory and such)

    Since the local traffic authority is granted the power to create regulatory signage, it in effect has the de facto ability to create law and levy a penalty in that the disobedience of a regulatory sign falls within the catch-all law requiring obedience to all road signs.

    Generally these rare cases of odd conditions within a given stretch of roadway can be regulated since non-standard signage can be assumed to be reasonable if it is designed to comport to traffic safety and a reasonable driver could understand and comply with the requirement of the signage. But I believe such a law can legally be ported to non-traffic situations where a government agency will enact a statute mandating obedience to all signage of a certain regulatory color and language, thus the city could either defer to an agency to create these signs and it could claim that the public was given proper notification of the sign law in general without having to give notice adopt specific signs with specific prohibitions.

    Due to this, a city could allow signs to proscribe nearly anything, bypass certain legal protections of the public, and sanction an individual for violating the general law of failing to comply with the general signage statute.

    1. Of course, it’s always done to protect the individual, they know what is best for the individual, …. but, the police have no duty to protect the individual, so why bother this lady?

      Revenue! they know how to generate revenue, and how to limit liability.

      Just gotta love the way leftist think.

    2. The human was not driving a car or sitting in the front seat. She was on an escalator. She chose not to get her paw contaminated with the germs of others.

    3. Darren, a marvelous analysis. However, your attitude is what leads to stupidity like this. We should not be giving people the right to control our lives in the way you advocate. I do not want my Canadian law enforcement officials, and dingbats like this guy working in the mall or whatever it was, telling me how I should live my life. I can decide whether I need to hold onto a handrail or not.

    4. Not to mention the police in Canada are given a lot of discretion when it comes to enforcing laws. If you are going 70 km\hr in a 60 km\hr zone, you are breaking the law, but an officer is highly unlikely to stop you at that speed.

      If you are going 85 km\hr in a 60 km zone, you will be much more likely to be ticketed.

    5. It was accepted that the offence did not exist. The ratio was that under civil law the cops had the right to be ignorant of the law.

    6. The escalator pictogram is literally a traffic sign for pedestrian traffic on moving equipment. The yellow background color is used to indicate caution and does not impose an obligation. You might well wonder how the arresting police office got his driver’s license given that he can’t even properly read a simple traffic sign. The same goes for his superiors within the police force, who condoned his illegal conduct rather than condemn it.

  9. That’s idiotic, but no surprise coming from my country, where la la land liberals rule the roost. This one needs to be reviewed by the SC and, hopefully, they’ll show some good sense.

  10. Wise Canadians are leaving Canada and leftist Americans are moving to Canada. It is a fair trade.

    Canada is bonkers!!!!

    1. @PaulCS – The idea has merit but after reading the many rants by the blogs resident mooncalf Canadian we should be very careful which Canadian is allowed entry.

      1. The Great Zambini – I know that we should have higher standards for allowing people in from all countries, including Canada.


          United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” (March 26, 1790).

          “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any

          Alien being a free white person,…”

  11. That handrail is as dirty and contaminated with microbes as door and gas pump handles. Do Canadian police also force people inside the bathroom stall to flush public toilets with their hands? Wait. Did they have those antibacterial handi wipes where people step onto the escalator?

    1. It occurs to me that it would be a “great advance for civilization” if moving escalator handrails passed through some sort of sanitizing station (alcohol wipe or UV exposure or even soapy water) every time they loop around. That would certainly cut down the contamination.

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